The African(ized) Queen: New
Twist Found To Hive Drama
By Marcia Wood
May 23, 2000
Africanized honey bees have an
unexpected advantage in the battle to keep beekeepers from replacing highly
defensive Africanized queens with gentle, easily managed European ones.
Within only one week after their queen dies or is removed by beekeepers,
Africanized worker bees--which are female--are capable of activating their
ovaries to produce viable female eggs for re-queening the hive. That's
according to preliminary findings by Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman of the ARS
Carl Hayden Bee Research Center,
Tucson, Ariz., and Stanley S. Schneider of the
University of North Carolina at
European worker bees' ovaries can't start producing eggs until the queen has
been missing for at least three weeks. And, egg-laying worker bees that are
queenless typically produce male offspring. In contrast, the Africanized
workers' faster, one-week response to queenlessness, and ability to produce a
queen from their own female eggs, could explain why many beekeepers' efforts to
re-queen an Africanized hive with a docile European queen haven't succeeded.
Queens introduced into colonies that have egg-laying workers will be attacked
Scientists already knew that some kinds of African honey bees, such as the
Cape bee of South Africa, can lay viable female eggs within one week of
becoming queenless, and nurture them to become their queen. But the
ARS and University researchers are
apparently the first to observe this phenomenon in Africanized worker bees in
the northern hemisphere.
Migrating from Brazil, Africanized bees are today found in Arizona,
California, Texas, New Mexico and Nevada.
The scientists are developing new tactics to foil the Africanized workers'
ability to make their own Africanized queen. DeGrandi-Hoffman reported the
findings at the
International Conference on Africanized Honey Bees and Bee Mites, held
recently in Tucson. ARS, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief research wing, was co-sponsor.
Scientific contact: Gloria
DeGrandi-Hoffman, ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Tucson, Ariz., phone
(520) 670-6380, ext. 105, fax (520) 670-5550, email@example.com.